I honestly don’t know what to think of monkeypox. I am still trying to wrap my head around COVID and the fact that so many people are still catching this mysterious virus. Even though COVID is not as deadly as it was just two years ago, I am still concerned about the long-term effects it will have on not just our bodies but our entire communities and healthcare systems in years to come.
I sometimes feel like I am one of the few people who still believes in wearing a mask and washing my hands like the old March 2020 days. As we begin to learn more about monkeypox, and more cities, including New York, declare monkeypox a state of emergency, I think it is important we take this seriously, so we do not lose time getting a grasp of this new virus.
Here’s what we do know so far. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests we continue to wash our hands often with soap and water (not just the rinse under the splash of water) or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. They also suggest you speak to a healthcare provider about your risk of contracting monkeypox and the vaccines that may be available to you.
We do know that currently monkeypox is most prevalent in certain populations in certain states. The CDC website has a wealth of information where you can find information about monkeypox as well maps of outbreak sites and vaccination information at www.cdc.gov.
The CDC also suggests we limit skin-to-skin contact with people who look like they have a rash, which may or may not be monkeypox. They also suggest refraining from touching someone’s rash, kissing or cuddling or sharing utensils and cups with someone who may have monkeypox.
Until we know more, we must be vigilant. If you believe you have contracted monkeypox, they suggest you call your provider to find out the appropriate next steps. If you feel you may be at high risk for contracting monkeypox, you may want to call your provider or the board of health to see if you are eligible for the vaccine. You can reach the New York City Health Department at www1.nyc.gov.
We must remember that staying healthy is not just for our own personal health, it’s for the greater community as well. We must think of COVID and monkeypox and all of the other mysterious viruses as public health concerns. We are a part of a larger collective and must think of others as we also think of ourselves. We do not know who among us may be immunocompromised or have other preexisting conditions.
Until then, wash your hands, wear a mask, and do not be afraid to ask questions. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has resources for those around the country.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC.